Drupal is a highly flexible and powerful OpenSource content management system (CMS). It was inititally created in 2000 to enable communication between students and has grown ever since. Although it is not the most widely used CMS, it is one of the most flexible and powerful systems. It is used by many large organisations who have complex sites as well as by much smaller organisations. Because of its flexiblity it allows the ability to create calenders, forums, e-commerce and membership sites among many other functionalities. One of the key abilities of Drupal is to allow people to easily login and update and add new content.
I have been working with Drupal since 2009, working with Drupal 5 and we are now on Drupal 10, which is the latest release. I have a lot of experience in developing many different types of Drupal websites from quite small sites to large complex membership sites.
Drupal is free! It is built by a community of volunteers and distributed freely. Some of the development in Drupal is paid for, and this is usually done through sponsorship. But anyone can download and start using Drupal without having to pay. Moreover all of the extensions (see below) are also provided for free by volunteers. Drupal, unlike some of the alternative content management systems such as Wordpress and Joomla, is completely free. There is a strong ethos within the Drupal community that supports sharing and not having to pay for the core functionality or any extensions. Drupal does ask that for those people who use it, and are able to, to contribute to its development by working on the code.
Drupal has thousands of extensions that allow its core functionality to be extended to fit a particular need. This means that it is rarely neccesary to do any custom development as there is usually an extension that has been created for many of the needs that arise. I am always surprised at how often if there is a particular requirement there is always almost an extension that provides for the requirement. Not having to do any custom development saves on the development time and project costs.
Upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 10 (or another Drupal version)
Probably more sites have been built using Drupal 7 than any other version. Drupal 7 has been one of the most popular Drupal versions because of the ease of installation and the range of functionalities. I am experienced in upgrading websites from Drupal 7 to Drupal 10 or whatever the latest release is. As various technologies continue to evolve with new versions being released all the time, it is important to stay up to date. If systems are not updated, they risk not working properly or even being hacked. Drupal has said it will continue to support Drupal 7 until January 2025, but it is worthwhile to start thinking about any upgrades sooner rather than later.
Drupal is particularly good at building membership websites or websites where many different users need access. This is because it has a very well structured permissions system, allowing the ability to create many different roles each of whom can have different levels of access. There are also many Drupal extensions that allow different users to be put in groups to give them shared access to different documents or other areas in the website, including forums.
Charity and Not-for-Profit Websites
Drupal, as an open source platform, is perfectly aligned with the ethos of charities and not-for-profit organisations. Drupals primary aim is not about making a profit, but of providing a service that is sustainable. This makes Drupal a perfect choice for charity and not-for-profit websites. The functionalities that Drupal provides are well suited to require these types of websites. It is possible to easily create different content types allowing for basic pages, news and other articles, events and many other types of content. Drupal also handles media very well, with an in-bult media library as well as making it straight forward to set up the listing of content. Donations can also eb built into Drupal or this can be provided through integration with other services.
Maintaining Drupal Websites
I provide a service to maintain and update Drupal websites. This usually includes the upgrade of Drupal core and any extensions to the most recent version when new releases become available. It can also include resolving errors and doing any website updates as needed. It is important to keep websites up to date as quite often new releases fix security issues where it is being found it is possibl to hack into a website through a known vulnerability. I can aslo look at other issues such as website speed and ease of use.
Some of the main features I work on include:
- Membership features
- Event and calender pages
- Mailing lists and newsletters
- Integrations (eg with Mailchimp, Salesforce, CiviCRM etc)
- Media and document libraries, including video and audio such as podcasts
- Sturcture content using different classifications (taxonomies)
- Content lists